Oct. 17, 2012
PASSHE message to student government presidents
I have heard from a number of you today requesting guidance on the status of negotiations between the State System and APSCUF, our faculty union.
First, please allow me to provide you with some background information. PASSHE employees are represented by seven separate labor unions. We have reached final or tentative agreements with six of them. In fact, we announced a tentative agreement with SCUPA today, the union which represents admissions, financial aid, residence life, and other student support services. Each of the settled contracts is structured to assure that any new costs incurred are offset as much as possible with savings through redesigned health care benefits or changes in how work is done.
APSCUF's most recent contract with PASSHE expired on June 30, 2011. In the absence of a new contract, the faculty has been working under the terms of the old contract. That means no salary increases, changes in benefits, etc. There is no timeline on how long this situation can continue.
We are very mindful of the fact that nearly three-fourths of the revenues for your university come from tuition and fees, with the remainder covered by our annual state appropriation. We are also aware that many of our students and their families are finding it difficult to pay for increases in those costs.
APSCUF recently requested that we enter into binding arbitration to reach a final agreement on a new contract. What that would mean is a neutral third party would be appointed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to decide the terms of the contract. We denied this request because of our major concern that the neutral party would not be bound to consider the financial ability of PASSHE to pay for its decisions. We also believe the negotiating process works.
That brings us to this week. You should have received a message from the Chancellor's Office yesterday that contains information about the PASSHE and APSCUF current bargaining positions. Your university contact and/or the Office of the Chancellor will update you as events change.
We have asked the university presidents to designate a contact person to be available to answer questions. Please see a list of the university contacts at the end of this message. We will provide the remaining contact information as soon as it is available. I encourage you to reach out to these contacts to help you in responding to questions you might get from your fellow students. You also can refer other students to these individuals so they may speak with them directly.
The leadership of APSCUF is holding a legislative council meeting on Saturday. It is our understanding that there might be a strike authorization vote taken at that meeting. It is important for you to know that this is NOT A VOTE TO STRIKE. It is a step in the process that must be taken before a strike vote actually could be taken. The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for October 22, November 2, and November 9.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Pennsylvania State System of HIgher Education
Executive Director for University Public Relations